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Hi Mate...From down under...

 Australia's national flag comprises the Union Jack, the Commonwealth Star, and the Southern Cross

The Coat of Arms of Australia is the official symbol of Australia.


Sydney's urban area is in a coastal basin, which is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Blue Mountains to the west, the Hawkesbury River to the north and the Royal National Park to the south. It lies on a submergent coastline, where the ocean level has risen to flood deep river valleys (ria) carved in the Hawkesbury sandstone. Port Jackson, better known as Sydney Harbor, is one such ria. The Sydney area is not affected by significant earthquakes.

The urban area has around 70 harbor and ocean beaches, including the famous Bondi Beach. Sydney's urban area covers 651 sq miles as of 2001 The Sydney Statistical Division, used for census data, is the unofficial metropolitan area and covers 4,689 sq miles. This area includes the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains, and national parks and other un-urbanised land. In other words...It's a very big city covering a LOT of ground.

Our time in Sydney was spent sightseeing using the Hop-on - Hop-off busses that proliferate the city. 

We spent time down in the Rocks area and ate in some interesting places.  Sydney is a very expensive city to visit.  On one of our excursions I ducked into a Woolworths or "Wooly" as the locals refer to it and priced different produce, meats and other staples.  One pint of Strawberries was $8.00, two little sirloin steaks equaling 1 1/2 pounds was $28, and one gallon of milk was $5.50 and eggs were $3.25 per dozen.  Gas is sold by the liter (3.8 liters = 1 gallon of gas) and a liter was $2.23...Much too expensive for this country boy.

Breakfast at the hotel was $40 EACH, lunch for both of us at McDonalds cost $21.00, and I ordered 1/2 slab of ribs for dinner at Damon's for  $35.  Lois had a single small pork chop for $29. 



Melbourne's inner suburbs encompasses a number of places of significance, which include: Crown Casino, Federation Square, Flinders Street Station, Melbourne Aquarium, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne Town Hall, National Gallery of Victoria, State Arts Centre of Victoria, State Library of Victoria, State Parliament of Victoria, Supreme Court of Victoria and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Bordering its north-east perimeter is the World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens as well as the Melbourne Museum. It is also the main terminus for the Melbourne metropolitan and Victorian regional passenger rail networks - being Flinders Street and Southern Cross stations respectively, as well as the most dense section of the Melbourne tram network.

Getting around in Melbourne (as in Sydney) can be accomplished by traveling on the "Hop-on - Hop-off" busses.  Melbourne is very much an industrial city as evidenced by traveling from the docks to the inner-city.  Melbourne has a distinct blue-collar flavor not felt in it's sister city of Sydney but it does have it's charms.   

It is the major central business district of Greater Melbourne's metropolitan area, and a major financial centre in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. The City is home to the corporate headquarters of the World's two largest mining companies: BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto Group; as well as two of Australia's "big four" banks: ANZ and NAB, two largest gaming companies: Crown and Tabcorp, largest telecommunications company Telstra, two largest transport management companies: Toll and Transurban as well as the iconic brewing company Foster's Group. It also serves as the main administrative centre for the City of Melbourne and the Government of Victoria – the latter with the suburb of East Melbourne. Two universities have major campuses in the area: Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT City campus) and University of Melbourne (Victorian College of the Arts).

The city is serviced by five railway stations as part of the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop: Flinders Street (the busiest), Southern Cross Station (the hub of the regional network in Spencer Street at Melbourne Docklands) also an interstate terminal and three underground stations - Parliament, Melbourne Central and Flagstaff (not open on weekends) stations. Flinders Street Station is also the hub for Melbourne's suburban train network.

Trams run down the main streets Flinders, Collins, Bourke and Latrobe as well as Spencer Street, Market Street, Elizabeth Street, Swanston Street, Spring Street, Swan Street and St Kilda Road. There are several large accessibility tram superstops located in Flinders Street, Collins Street, Swanston Street and Bourke Street mall.

The city is also well connected by bus services, with majority of buses running down Lonsdale street. Major bus stops include Melbourne Central and QV. Most bus routes service suburbs north and east of the city given the lack of train lines to these areas. Major bicycle trails lead to the CBD and a main bicycle path down Swanston Street. Ferries dock along the northbank of the Yarra at Federation Wharf and the turning basin at the Aquatic Centre. There is also a water taxi service to Melbourne and Olympic Parks.




Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is 150 miles south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania, the 26th largest island in the world, and the surrounding 334 islands. The state has a population of 507,626 (as of June 2010, of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart precinct. Tasmania’s area is 26,410 sq miles, of which the main island covers 24,096 sq miles.

Tasmania is promoted as the natural state, the "Island of Inspiration", and A World Apart, Not A World Away owing to its large and relatively unspoiled natural environment. Almost 37% of Tasmania lies in reserves, national parks and World Heritage Sites. The island is 226 miles long from its northernmost to its southernmost points, and 190 miles from west to east.

The state capital and largest city is Hobart, which encompasses the local government areas of City of Hobart, City of Glenorchy, and City of Clarence, while the satellite town of Kingston (part of the Municipality of Kingborough) is generally included in the Greater Hobart area.

Getting around the Island of Tasmania is much more difficult than it's larger cousin, Australia.  Taxis abound as do tour busses but rental car is the way to go when you want to see the most sights. We arrived in the main port and capital, Hobart.  It is very much a typical port city and almost everything is shipped into this particular port.  The countryside is beautiful and lush.  We chose to go to a wildlife preserve and we were very glad that we did that (photos below).   Lois got to handle many different animals (not the Tasmanian Devil,  Nooooooooooo).  Those little devils BITE and have a NASTY temperament.  The Wallabies, Koalas,  even the Kangaroos were much more docile and seeing a live Platypus was just awesome.